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Tesla & Chinese Startups Outshining Legacy Automakers In World’s Largest EV Market

Tesla and some Chinese EV startups are outshining legacy automakers such as Toyota, Volkswagen, and others in the world’s largest EV market, The South China Morning Post has reported. The article noted that buyers are focusing more on cutting-edge technology and compared the sales numbers of Volkswagen, Toyota, and Tesla.

Volkswagen sold 1,267 ID.4 vehicles between January and May 2021 in China. Toyota, the article noted, didn’t do well at all. It only sold 327 electric vehicles during the same time period. On the flip side, Tesla delivered a combined 33,463 of its Models 3 and Y vehicles in May. The article pointed out that Xpeng and NIO also set monthly sales records in June.

The article commented that legacy automakers Volkswagen and Toyota have been “largely overshadowed by Tesla and Chinese startups in the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) market where green cars have taken off.” The fact that an American company is the leading automaker in China, the world’s largest EV market, is something many Americans should be proud of.

Regarding Tesla’s cutting-edge technology, The Street noted that the only hope for legacy automakers in Detroit to beat Tesla is NVIDIA’s software. The article described Tesla’s Model S Plaid as “an artificial intelligence wake-up call for carmakers,” and noted that this is a big opportunity for both NVIDIA and Aptiv. Also see: How NVIDIA Brings Autonomy To Automakers — CleanTechnica Interview.

EVs are the future, but legacy automakers are struggling to catch up to Tesla and will need all of the help they can get. NIO is using several highly personalized software features that run on top of NVIDIA hardware, the article pointed out. The NIO ET7 is the closest Tesla technology competitor. It has a full in-car AI system and can go from 0–60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

Reuters noted that Volkswagen is far behind on its implied annual sales target of around 100,000 EVs and that this was a bit worrisome for its CEO, Herbert Deiss. Those low sales followed the company staking its reputation on beating Tesla for electric supremacy, the article noted, while adding that Volkswagen was investing €35 billion into electrification.

Another key point from the article is that Volkswagen and FAW, one of the Chinese companies it has a joint venture with, have EV factories that are running below 10% of production capacity. This is due to poor sales from a lack of smart tech features. Competition and a late launch are also to blame for this. Tesla is doing so well in China that its own smart EV startups are still struggling to catch up — or get close.

The Motley Fool noted that although Xpeng has an over-sevenfold increase in delivery numbers, it along with NIO are still far behind Tesla in volume terms (as you can also see from CleanTechnica‘s monthly sales reports, or just charts, on plugin vehicle sales in China). The article stated that it’s important not to overstate the possibility of the two Chinese companies becoming Tesla beaters even though their growth figures are impressive. Tesla still has a large lead over its competition in terms of volume as well as its massive growth.

Last month, CNBC reported that the stock market has already chosen a winner in the race to mass-EV production. Todd Gordon, who founded TradingAnalysis.com, told CNBC’s Trading Nation that Tesla’s large valuation speaks volumes about where investors are placing their bets as legacy automakers rush to develop their own EVs.

He noted that legacy automakers “will certainly gain market share in the near term on Tesla,” while also adding, “but if you look at the billions of miles driven that Tesla has plugged into their major data centers compared to what the other EVs have, it’s not even funny.”

“The one who has the most data will ultimately be victorious. So, sure, they can gain some short-term market share, but I think longer-term … I think the market is already voting who the winner will be.”


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Written By

Johnna Crider is a Louisiana native who likes crawfish, gems, minerals, EVs, and advocates for sustainability. Johnna is also the host of GettingStoned.online, a jewelry artisan and a $TSLA shareholder.

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